American Roulette History

Roulette School

Roulette is one of the oldest gambling games in the world. It has thrilled gamblers all over the world for centuries and has baffled gaming historians as to its origin. The name roulette comes from French and means “little wheel” however it is disputed if France is the true origin of the game.

Earliest Roulette Games

Back in ancient times wheels were used for gambling games from ancient China where soldiers would use torture wheels against their captive enemies and gamble of the result of the torture, all the way to Roman soldiers that used chariot wheels to play a game that is similar to “Wheel of Fortune” with the blessing of their commanders who encouraged gambling among soldiers as a way of keeping morale up during times of war.

The Greeks used their metal shields as a gambling wheel by making ten marks in equal spaces and betting on which mark the shield will stop its spin on. The Italians played a game called Hoca that spread in popularity across Europe around the 17th century. Hoca consisted of a circular table with 40 numbered cups spread evenly around the perimeter of the table. 3 of the cups were numbered as zero and players would gamble on which cup the ball will land on.

Another game that was very popular around that period originated in England and was called E-O to denote Even/Odd. This game also used a circular table with 40 sections, only the sections were marked as either Even or Odd. Players would gamble on the outcome of the spin being Even or Odd.

Both Hoca and E-O have some connection to the game of roulette played today and some even believe that roulette is the direct offspring of these two games.

French Roulette

In 1655 French mathematician Blaise Pascal, who is known worldwide for his many priceless contributions to math and science, was trying to invent a perpetual-motion device and while he failed to do that he did invent by mistake the original roulette wheel that is very similar to the wheel used today.

French roulette was played using a wheel with numbers ranging from 1 to 36 until the year 1824 when two French brothers Francois and Louis Blanc decided to improve the game by adding a zero to the wheel and making the number selection be of 37 numbers ranging from 0 -36. This increased the house edge and made casino owners promote the game further.

American Roulette

Around the end of the 18th century French immigrants fleeing the destruction of the French Revolution immigrated to Louisiana in the south of the USA and brought with them the game of roulette. Back then New Orleans was the gambling capital of the south of the USA.

In New Orleans the game of roulette received a rather cold welcoming as casino operators did not like the low house edge that European roulette offered. To combat this they added a double zero in addition to the single zero on the European wheel.

Some earlier versions included an American roulette that had a single zero, double zero, and an American eagle symbol. The numbers ranged from 1 – 28 and when the ball landed on 0, 00 or Eagle symbol then the casino won all bets except for those who bet on those symbols. This game offered a house edge of 12.90% on single number bets and favored the casino heavily.

Then the game was changed again and now the game had 38 numbers in use ranging from 0 and 00 to 36 and offers a higher house edge from European roulette which ensured greater profits for the casino operators, but also offers good payouts to players. The numbers on the American roulette wheel are organized in a different order than the order of numbers on the European roulette wheel. The game started to be offered in more and more gambling halls and casino riverboats and quickly gained popularity with local gamblers.

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